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Literature of Leadership - Culture Renovation

CULTURE RENOVATION: 18 Leadership Actions to Build an Unshakeable Company. Kevin Oakes (2021, Kindle Edition)

Kevin Oakes makes a research-informed case that “organizations with a healthy culture have staying power and an enormous advantage over their competitors.” Oakes is CEO and Co-founder of the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp)—a human capital research and talent management consulting firm. To understand why the vast majority of companies that embark on culture change do not achieve optimal results, i4cp conducted extensive research including interviews with executives from leading organizations to determine the reason(s) why. Culture Renovation presents a distillation of what was learned, including a three-phase (18-step) blueprint of proven tactics on how to transform an organization’s culture and, in doing so, cultivate a high-performance organization—inclusive of “an engaged workforce, better execution, resiliency in the face of challenges, and more loyal customers.”

Throughout the book, Oakes shares research and case studies that identify not only what works, but also what does not. Practical insights and examples are given from cutting-edge companies such as T-Mobile, Microsoft, Ford, among others. In the first two chapters, a storytelling approach is used to illustrate how culture impacts organizational performance. Chapters 3 through to 21 address each of 18 steps, which are grouped according to three phases for change—Plan, Build, and Maintain. More specifically:

  • In the “Plan” phase, the groundwork is laid for a planful approach to assess the existing culture, identify enduring values, define a purpose statement for the desired future state, determine associated behaviors, identify culture power brokers (influencers, energizers, and blockers), and determine how progress will be measured, monitored and reported.

  • In the “Build” phase, actionable tactics focus on how to communicate the case for change, ferret out skeptics, paint a picture of what success looks like, foster collaboration, cultivate a co-creation mindset, and invest in employee training and development.

  • In the “Maintain” phase, the focus shifts to how to infuse the renovated culture into daily operations such as onboarding, employee recognition, performance management, as well as on how to promote inclusiveness and diversity, encourage talent mobility, and measure employee experience.

While this book has value for leaders at all levels, the author emphasizes that “the responsibility for changing a culture ultimately rests with an organization’s top leaders.” Check out the online resources at .

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